How to Make Money as a Freelance Blogger (and Actually Enjoy Your Work)

How to Make Money as a Freelance Blogger
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High-speed internet connection? Check. Laptop? Check. Dedication, ambition and a love for putting pen to paper? Check, check, check.

You’re ready to make money as a freelance blogger. You’re just not sure how to do it.

The good news is that other people have done it. These bloggers have made more than a buck or two by freelance blogging. It’s possible to make your living — and then some — in this field.

Learn from the best in the biz: follow their tips to get started on your successful freelance blogging career today.

1. Find your niche

If you’re a jack of all trades, master of none, you won’t make much money freelance blogging. Why not?

Because you won’t stand out as an expert on anything.

You can demand higher rates if you are a subject matter expert. Your niche will help here – tremendously.”
Marya Jan of Writing Happiness

2. Start your own blog

Since you’re just starting out, you probably don’t have a portfolio. If you have nothing to entice clients to hire you, why would they? They’ll go with someone who already has some experience, which leaves you back at square one. But if you have your own blog and can submit samples of your own posts, you’ll be able to prove to clients off-the-bat that you’re hireable.

“If you want to become a successful freelance blogger then you should create a successful blog. It doesn’t have to be the next Mashable (when I landed my first job my blog was attracting just forty visitors per day), but a successful blog is practical evidence of your abilities.”
Tom Ewer of Leaving Work Behind

3. Keep blogging it out on your own

Once you start landing freelance blogging gigs, it’s important to keep up your personal blog — even though you aren’t paying yourself to do so. Focus on growing your community and providing relevant content. The next step is finding a way to monetize your personal blog so it can become another revenue stream.

“Once you’ve built up a following, you can also sell e-books, courses, and other products to your readers — or market yourself as a writer in your industry.”
Linda Formichelli of The Renegade Writer

4. Blog only for the readers you want

You want to be a freelance blogger so you can have the freedom to work from wherever — ideally from a sunny beach while sipping a Mai Tai. Although that isn’t a realistic vision of what it really means to be a freelance blogger, keep that vision in mind anyway.

If you’re working for a difficult client or writing a blog post on something you couldn’t care less about, it doesn’t matter how beautiful that beach is or how delicious that Mai Tai tastes. You’ll be miserable.

Every project you say “yes” to means you have less room to say “yes” to another project. So make sure everything on your plate is something you really want and can handle.”
Kelly Gurnett of Cordelia Calls It Quits

5. Seek out regular clients

Time is money, and every time you start work with a new client, you’ll have to spend (often unpaid) time getting to know the client, their expectations and their style. With long-term clients, you’ll have a more steady income and can even negotiate a higher rate down the road. (Click to tweet this idea).

I work with a handful of long terms clients and spend next to no time on marketing and administration. It is highly rewarding to know that the vast majority of the work I do on my freelance business is directly earning me money. My hourly rate really is my hourly rate.”
Tom Ewer of Leaving Work Behind

6. Speed up

Simply put, the faster you type, the more blog posts you can crank out and the more money you can make. So if you can’t type quickly or you make a lot of typing errors, get to work on improving your speed and become a more efficient typist.

“It may sound trivial, but it really isn’t. If you are interested in writing for a living, learning to type faster is effectively a business investment.”
Tom Ewer of Leaving Work Behind

7. Blog for free

Wait, isn’t this a post about making money as a freelance blogger? Hear me out.

Do you want to get your name out there and in front of clients who have potential to pay a lot? Do you want to prove you’re an awesome writer without having to beg clients to give you a chance? Writing for free is your answer to all of the above. Writing for free is how you make money down the road.

Writing for free helps you gain visibility and develop a network of people who will actually pay for something you offer, so long as you’re smart enough to monetize that opportunity.”
Alexis Grant

8. Be prepared to write quite a lot — and then quite a lot more

Yes, freelance blogging is a cushy work-from-your-couch job that doesn’t even require wearing pants. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s still hard work. Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing — who makes at least $5,000 a month blogging — churns out almost 70 posts a month.

Freelance blogging can be a bit of a grind. So if you think this is about resting on your laurels, think again.

“Yes, this isn’t that moonshot way of earning that so many are dreaming of, where you monetize your own blog and make six figures on autopilot. This is an everyday, working-class sort of way to earn from blogging. Simply helping publications and companies communicate powerfully with their readers and customers.”
Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing

9. When the time is right, increase your rates

When you land your first freelance blogging gig, it’s likely not going to pay very lucratively. That’s okay. But as you gain more experience and know your clients want to keep you around, it’s time to raise your rates and start making more money.

“Look, as a freelancer, there’s no boss giving you an appraisal and deciding that it’s time to beef up your paycheck. That’s up to you. Most experienced freelancers I know will raise their rates every year or so (unless the economy is tanking). If nothing else, raise your rate according to the rate of inflation. If you don’t, you’re effectively losing money.”
Mridu Khullar Relph of MriduKhullar.com

10. Step the f*ck up

You don’t know if you’re good enough. You don’t have tons of experience. You don’t really know what you’re doing.

Enough.

If you want to be a successful freelance blogger, then you need to adjust your attitude, clean your slate of all those excuses and get started already. Because one thing is for sure. Your freelance blogging “career” will continue to make you zilch for the rest of your life if you don’t start somewhere.

“Deciding that you simply don’t have the confidence to talk to people about your freelance blogging services, or to apply for an advertised gig, is like deciding that you’re too shy to call emergency services when someone’s lying wounded at your feet. Excusing yourself from freelance blogging because you don’t know where to begin is like excusing yourself from eating cake because you don’t know where to slice it.”
Sophie Lizard of Be a Freelance Blogger

Excusing yourself from freelance blogging because you don’t know where to begin is like excusing yourself from eating cake because you don’t know where to slice it.

How have you developed your freelance blogging career?

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Betsy Mikel is a freelance copywriter and content strategist who helps brands, businesses and entrepreneurs tell their stories. A journalist at heart, her curiosity drives her to find something new to learn every single day.... .

Betsy Mikel | @betsym

Betsy Mikel
Blogger Sophie Lizard

Featured resource

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In this online course, Sophie Lizard will teach you EXACTLY how to find and win high-paying clients, with real-life examples from her freelance blogging business.

Comments

  1. Hey Betsy,

    great post indeed. I’ve been meaning to find work (which, I do desperately need) – but I feel let down by bigger sites like eLance and oDesk, it seems that I can do a lot (and I mean, a lot) better than some of the writers there, and I’d like to be paid in full for the quality that I bring to the table.

    What do you recommend, Betsy?

    • I’m sure every writer on this list has been rejected by publications they thought they were perfectly qualified for. I know I have! Prove ’em wrong by keeping at it. You may have to accept less than you think you are worth at the start (I went to journalism school and thought I certainly knew how to write, but still had trouble getting work even with that diploma), but the more you write, the more experience you’ll be able to show as you aim for bigger, higher paying clients.

  2. Great post!

    I just wanted to add something for item number 1, if I may. 😉 While it is true that you won’t make much money freelance blogging if you don’t have a niche, I think it’s better to start somewhere rather than be stuck on your blogging career trying to find your niche. 🙂 By trying to write about a lot of things, you’ll soon discover the one topic that you want to own and eventually become your niche.

    That’s just my opinion. 🙂

    • I couldn’t agree with you more Joy. Sometimes you just have to write about anything until you find the one thing you enjoy the most.

      • Agreed! You have to start somewhere to move forward, so trying out a few interests until you find one that continues to motivate is a great way to do that.

    • I agree and disagree. I think one of the most important things a writer can do is to just write. However, writing about something that you are passionate about makes the process easier. If you love travel and custom bikes, for example, then write about both. Starting your own blog can be a good way of strengthening your writing muscle and hone your voice at the same time.

      I’m a blogger/writer, but most of the time I’ve been in an editor role. One of the main things that I’ve seen is that inexperienced writer/bloggers just don’t produce enough work. They apply for a job, then take a week to do a post that was supposed to take a day, then stop submitting work all together.

      Writing can be a grind, so you’ve got to love it and be efficient. I would say that to start earning a living, you need to be committed to writing about 5000 words a day.

  3. Great post! I love that you’ve shared the quotes from other freelance bloggers and writers.

  4. Well said Betsy! Anyone who wants to succeed in this business has to go out there, learn from the experts and make it happen.

  5. Thanks for including me! In the interest of full disclosure, I want to say I’m not writing 70 blog posts a month any more! That’s a fairly old post you’re linking to there.

    That was a busy phase in my life, but I’ve since moved on to writing higher-pay projects. I’m only blogging for Forbes and my own blog right now. 😉

    But if anything, it’s only easier to earn well as a freelance blogger now than it was then — I think more companies have discovered the power of content marketing and with Google’s changes, more realize they can’t get cheap junk and stuff it on their sites and hope to attract clients. They need pro writers who can help build their authority and deliver really useful information with great headlines to get them clicks.

    • Glad you’ve been able to scale back a bit! It’s great news that you can still make a living and not work yourself thin. This-is-actually-worth-reading quality content is definitely the name of the content marketing game these days — of course us writers always knew that, but it’s nice to see that everyone else is catching up 😉 — so I agree that there are even more opportunities out there for strong writers.

      • Ashish Bhatnagar says:

        More people will continue catching up to our phenomena as Google further hardens its policies for quality content. Indeed great content is all about content marketing these days 🙂

  6. Inspirational stuff, Betsy!

    My favorite was #10.

    If you want to make it happen, then you gotta step the [expletive deleted] up and make it happen!

  7. I have read a lot of blogs and articles about blogging for income, and the tips (including yours) are great. But no one is telling those of us that want to step the *uck up how to actually do it. Do I just randomly email blog owners and ask to write for them? Send some sort of query letter? Or is there some sort of forum where needed bloggers are posted?

  8. Michael Szynalski says:

    I don’t blog. Is it really necessary for all writers to have a website and blog? Plus I cannot type faster because of my disability. My mind is quick and sharp, but my fingers won’t work any faster.
    I don’t agree with your ten tips. Maybe, they could help some writers who prefer to be in a business mode that promotes a competitive edge.

    • Thanks for your comment, Michael.

      While I’d hesitate to make a blanket about anything that “all writers must do,” I think it’s important that potential readers and clients are able to contact you. Chuck Sambuchino addresses this in his post Without This, You’ll Never Succeed as a Writer: http://thewritelife.com/without-this-youll-never-succeed-as-a-writer/

      Great point about being limited by the speed of your fingers; that can be an issue for many writers. You may want to keep an eye out for our post on Tuesday, which will feature several voice tools that can assist with hands-free writing.

  9. Nice post Betsy, thank you.

    As for Number 6: Speed Up – What do you think about the voice recognition these days on PC’s and Macs?

    Windows comes with one and Mac comes with one. Plus there is Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which is very good. I spent some time last year really going through the learning curve with Dragon. It takes some practice for two different reasons. One reason is to learn all the ways of using it. The other, more subtle but with more impact, is learning how to speak what I used to type. I quickly realized that typing, although fast enough for me (about 110 wpm), was so slow compared to my brain that the typing allowed my brain to construct and review ahead of the typing. Speaking is different. Speaking is so much faster that I have to do more mental prep to speak-type. There is also the point of controlling one’s words to really match what I want typed. We speak differently than we write.

    I am interested to hear other’s perspectives. Any experiences with speech recognition? Any questions I might be able to help with?

  10. I wondered the same thing about “where to start”. This is what came back from a google search on “paid blogging opportunities”. It’s a start…http://bit.ly/1bCjNc7

  11. Great post, and I have to say that Number 10, it hit home and encouraged me. Sometimes, we need to put up of shut up. If we keep the excuses rolling, we will continue to spin our wheels and get nowhere in record time.
    Of course, easier said than done!

    Regards,

    Jason

  12. I have my own blog and i write 20 articles in a month but i am earning nothing y so ?

  13. Awesome tips!

    I think #7 is essential. When you’re trying to sell your services, you need exposure. Blogging for free (guest posting) could really help you, and even the blogger you’re writing for could eventually hire you.

  14. Hi Betsy,
    I only thing stand on the way of my freelance writing dreams is the fact that I love to write informative and unique financial and tech content and I do want that other read my content and appreciate it. I have not much concerned for revenues while writing.

  15. Great tips 🙂 The first one is incredibly important and often underestimated.

  16. Detailed post and in depth as well. Love all the tips, number 5 Is especially important!

  17. Awesome post! As a freelancer I’ve been watching the progress of a company called Workweek. Looks like it will be a pretty good service for us to get paid on. Check them out at http://getworkweek.com/

  18. Great post. This post gives good insight on what we can gain from blogging. As a new blogger, we want to read positive things like this to keep us motivated.

    Thanks for the ultimate guide on blogging !!

  19. hello, in these times it is difficult to get work, especially if we talk about a good job.
    I like to have flexibility in my work but that not all companies offer it.
    I’m looking for alternatives and I’m trying to work in the freelance world so far will
    on track.
    I’m working with projects offered by this site Freelance Work: workingfreelancer and I think quite useful, I had some gains that makes me think that in the future could devote to this.

  20. Wow! This is perfect. I will definitely focus on blogging now. I recently launch my personal blog. digitalwonderwoman.com

    I will keep in mind all the tips you shared here.

  21. Hi Betsy,

    I really love writing that is why I choose to be a freelancer. Aside from earning money, I also get a chance to share my knowledge and inspire people with my contents.

    This is really a great content, I will start my own blog now, thank you for the tips and information. 🙂

    Cheers!

  22. I’m the founder of a canadian digital marketing agency. We recently started working with freelancers for content writing, web design and everything digital. Would love to hear your thoughts on how to spread the news to the freelancer community Betsy,

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